This post appeared originally on the Change Alberta blog.

I’ll admit to a little crankiness occasionally. So, it may not be a big surprise that I’m not always fond of perky cheerleader types who think they’ve cornered the market on positivity. I’m also a little tired of rigid, holier-than-thou political preachers who pass judgment on others from their high horse.

Consider this. What gives anyone the right to tell another person not only WHO to vote for but HOW they should make that decision? Who says there is a right and a wrong way to make a decision about how to cast your ballot in an election? Apparently, some candidates, when questioned about vote splitting, are claiming that strategic voting is wrong.

 No right vs. wrong way to mark your X

Now, I have no problem with candidates trying to convince me to vote for them. That is their job, after all. What I do have a problem with is a candidate pronouncing that I’m going about making my decision the wrong way. If I choose to vote for a candidate because I not only agree with their thinking–but I also believe they have the best chance of winning when compared with a crowded slate of similar candidates—it is unfair to tell me this is wrong or negative.

It’s outrageous to suggest that my vote is not “for” anything, but “against” something. It’s called voting FOR an idea, a philosophy and for a set of values that transcend party lines. It’s about deciding who best represents those ideas, then considering which of those people has the best chance of being successful. This is the idea behind ChangeAlberta.ca, which began not long after the last election and has been building support ever since.

Bigger than a logo

It’s okay to believe in something bigger than a logo and a colour scheme. In fact, it’s downright honourable and inspiring! It seems those candidates slamming the ChangeAlberta.ca initiative are simply afraid of not making the final cut on election day.

Democracy is incredibly powerful and exciting. It’s also nuanced and complex. It’s bizarre that some people think that there is only one correct way to make a decision when you’re at the voting booth. Honestly, we should all just be thrilled to death that people are giving their vote that much consideration. Thinking strategically and making a thoughtful, reasoned decision should be celebrated.

Out of touch with reality

This “plague of positivity” where people are declaring that marking your X for this reason is “good,” but for marking your X for this reason is “bad,” just goes too far. And making people feel bad about being non-partisan doesn’t make any sense.

If I belong to a party, but decide to vote for another party, well, that is my right. If I don’t belong to any party and I’m trying to choose between 2-3 people, what is wrong with choosing the person I think has the best chance of winning, regardless of the party? The expectation that everyone should stick to their favourite party, no matter what, is just out of touch with the reality of the majority of the population.

Furthermore, wanting to see your candidate win is not a bad thing or a sell-out, it’s the chance to actually bring about change instead of being sidelined from the decision-making. Accusing those who want to vote strategically of not being part of the “positivity posse,” is a pretty shallow argument.

Democracy revisited

There’s no doubt this election is unlike any other election we’ve seen in more than a decade. The sudden exposure to real democracy may have some people confused. They are used to just voting by rote and ritual and a new way of thinking is almost too big and scary to comprehend. So, they are trying to tell the rest of us with open minds that we are doing something terribly fiendish by coming up with a creative solution.

Excuse me, but when our healthcare, our children’s education, our jobs and our environment are threatened by “groupthink,” those of us who want to think outside of the ballot box are focused on making the honest-to-goodness changes we need.

We need to roar our disapproval, demand more of our politicians (not less) and wrestle our future back from the brink!

It takes courage to stand up to the status quo, toe-the-line, “now play nicely by our rules” crowd.

The great battles for democracy are fought not with pom-poms and prissiness; they are won with a strong dose of piss and vinegar!

Miss Cranky Pants (aka Jody MacPherson) is a communications consultant, politico, soccer mom, divorcee (is it any wonder?) and coffee addict who gets a little testy without regular caffeine. 

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